LaToya London had a real good girl image while she was a finalist during the third season of American Idol. She was always perceived as strong, matronly, poised, and collected. At the time, she was married and had two stepchildren. Shortly after her fourth place finish on the show, she separated from her husband and her good girl image, as evidence on her debut album Love and Life on Peak Records. As expected, London still sounds amazing. Her vocals were consistently the strongest during her run on the show, and the album's vocals are no exceptions. Every power note is delivered with conviction, and every smooth, soft sound is crooned flawlessly. The only concern with the album is more the content itself. It borders on X-rated at points. Lines in "Waiting for You" and "Practice Makes Perfect" contain lyrics that are too inappropriate to even publish. In addition, the central focus of this album is sex. For a woman who made her fame on a family show, this style choice seems really risky. However, the impressive team of producers that London has chosen to work with have made a really smooth album that falls somewhere between an Ashanti release and a Jill Scott piece. London has a strong collection of hits that would appeal to different branches of the R&B/soul market. The lead single, "Appreciate" is a power single, complete with terrifically catchy beats, and a well placed rap by Black Thought from the Roots. The ballad portion of the album, especially considering London's decision to sing ballads continuously during the show, is rather paltry. What's really unfortunate is that the ballads are strong and impressive. "State of My Heart" is a poignant piece where London has never sounded better, even more so than on the show. Unfortunately, she has simply made some mistakes as an artist. By taking a sexually charged approach to R&B, she has lost many of the fans who supported her along the way, and her songwriting skills are not strong. London has co-written four tracks on the album, but they are four of the weaker tracks here. The highlight of the album comes right at the end, with "All by Myself," the Celine Dion ballad that first garnered attention for London. Perhaps this should send a message to London, that trying something different isn't always the way to go. In the very least, she sounds nice singing the inappropriate material.
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AllMusic Review by Matthew Chisling
feat: Black Thought